My questions about the current economic crisis are not rhetorical. That is, I don’t ask where the new jobs come from because I think that the answer is obvious, e.g. there won’t be any more new jobs, or there are always more new jobs. I ask because I don’t know the answer, and I think the answer will tell us a lot about what life will be like in this country in the years to come.
A commenter on Mike Shedlock’s weblog considers the same question below. I think his observations are roughly accurate, and he raises some questions I haven’t yet heard very often. They all boil down to one larger, non-rhetorical question: as jobs disappear along with the possibility of retiring, will there be enough work left for us to do in order to earn our livings?
What scares me is that I just can’t see any long term fix to the employment problem. We have been a society that bought things we didn’t need and bought things we didn’t make with money we didn’t have.
The median household income in the US is just under $50,000 a year, but that household is living on between $60 and $70,000 a year. Not only will that median income fall, but now that Americans are locked out of their HELOCs, closed out of their credit cards and barred from their bank loans, the US practice of living beyond one’s means is finished, forever. The US Government is living far beyond its means. States and municipalities are living far beyond their means, and when pensions fall short, baby boomers will will be crippled by the new austerity. My friends are saying that if their pensions fail, they will just have to keep working. All I can think of when they tell me that, is that there will be no jobs at which they can still work. If we don’t think this situation can get much worse, then we are a country in denial.
We have lost jobs to outsourcing, but now, even those outsourced jobs are disappearing in their new countries. We have lost many jobs to technology, and those jobs are never coming back. Although I haven’t seen it written, with demographics as they are, we may have a ten year supply of houses. Here in southern North Carolina, we have at least twenty years of residential housing infrastructure. With the consumer becoming an endangered species, in the future we may have more mall destruction than mall creation. Future construction jobs, even those created in green energy and in infrastructure, will no longer bail this debtor nation out.
A lot of us are saying that we will learn to live within our means, but when we say that, we refuse to recognize that our means are shrinking. I expect that over the next few years, we will be losing almost as many public sector jobs as private sector jobs. How may pencil pushers and middlemen can one country employ? If manufacturing is not brought back to America, then America, a country strangled by insurmountable debt, is doomed for my lifetime and for the lifetimes of my children